Bell's Diablo Rogue
Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College
Bell's Diablo Rogue
A wild majestic spirit visited a five-year-old little girl every night in her dreams. She was not afraid; the beauty captivated her. This vision would be fleeting in and out of her thoughts and dreams for the rest of her life. It was all she thought about, dreamed about, and longed for--a horse of her own. That little girl was myself.
My parents could not afford to buy a horse for me, so I contented myself with exercising about twenty of them in my neighborhood. A love of these animals and hands-on experience combine to make one of the best equine schools there could ever be. Horses are wonderful teachers when a person is willing to learn from them and just about everything I know I learned from them. I learned how to communicate with a horse long before the "Horse Whisperer" became famous. They really do have a language of their own, and as a child I would lie for hours on a fresh spring green hillside in a pasture watching and studying them. While studying I noticed that they were not as trusting as I thought they could be, but every once in a while I could gain a little trust from a horse and it was thrilling. My biggest dream ever was to get a very young horse and raise it myself.
It was a lazy Sunday morning in late August, 1996. As is the custom in my family, after a late breakfast, the weekend routines continued as they always did. The children watched television or read the Sunday comics, my husband Bill was at the computer and I, as usual, scanned the Horses for Sale section in the classified ads. Wishing I could afford to get one, I read the more interesting ones out loud, as if anyone was interested.
"Eight year old Chestnut mare for five hundred dollars; that's not a bad price. Six year old Palomino gelding for seven hundred and fifty dollars; I always wanted a Palomino." The next one left me speechless. I read and reread the ad to make sure I was reading it correctly. Four-month-old Bay Mustang colt--three hundred dollars. This was the find of a lifetime! Excitedly, breaking the silence as if I had just shot off a cannon in our living room, I said loudly, "I found him!"
When I looked up from the newspaper, my family was staring at me as if I was crazy, and while they gathered their wits about them I was asked, "You found who?"
My reply was instant, "The horse of my dreams!"
My children just rolled their eyes and went back to what they were doing, "We've heard that before, Mom."
Bill, looking curious, asked me to read the ad. Knowing he was humoring me, I read it only to find myself speechless for the second time that morning when he told me, "Call them."
Stunned, I asked him, "Are you serious?"
"Yes" he replied, "Call them. That is a great price and I know this is a lifelong dream of yours. We can go see him today." It didn't take me long to make the phone call and we were on our way.
Anticipation can be wonderfully terrible. The trip from Byron to Lodi was under two hours, but it seemed an eternity that day. When we finally arrived, I took note of the well-kept white painted fences along the driveway that contained many horses and foals. The buildings were in good repair, and the yard was well-groomed. Here was a professional breeding farm, and these people didn't let things go. From that impression I knew the colt had been well cared for. So why were they selling the colt for only three hundred dollars? We met the owner and she led us into a large white barn.
Tears threatened as I gazed at this incredibly beautiful creature standing before me. It was definitely love at first sight, and even though there were other people nearby, the colt and I were alone. He was so tiny, so frail, and oh so new. His coat looked soft and fluffy, a deep reddish brown with a black mane and tail. Long spindly legs sport white socks to his knees in the back and dark hooves in the front. There was a white stripe down the middle of his face; being offset a bit, it lent a unique inquisitive look to his already inquisitive expression. He looked back at me with his ears perked up and his soft alert dark eyes fixed on me as if to say, "Hi! Who are you?" I slowly moved closer to him and reached out to touch him. His soft white muzzle brushed against my hand; it felt like the softest velvet. Gently I began to run my hands along his neck; the hair was like kitten fur. I forced myself to get my emotions under control, stood back and looked at him objectively so I could be certain that he was sound and healthy. His conformation looked really good, his eyes and nose were clear, his teeth and hooves were strong, and he had energy. I went over him one more time with my hands from nose to tail and from back to hoof to be sure he was sound. As he lay his head on my shoulder my heart was lost; he had captivated me completely.
Bill took me aside and asked, "Well, what do you think? Is he worth what they're asking?"
"He's perfect," I said enthusiastically, "and yes, he's worth a lot more than what they're asking!"
Later the owner told us, "I had noticed that my horse's hooves were getting soft, so six months ago I went to Nevada and bought the colt's mother because she was pregnant. I wanted to use the foal to try to breed the Mustang's good hard hooves into my stock. It was a dumb idea though; as soon as the mare gave birth there was no getting near her. She just went crazy. This is the last time I ever want to see a Mustang and I'm selling the colt to recoup the cost of bringing the mare here and taking her back."
Satisfied, Bill paid for the colt and said, "Happy Birthday!" My fortieth birthday would be in a few days. Before leaving we arranged for the lady to deliver the colt that week and asked, "Have you named him yet?"
"Elmo. We just call him Elmo," she replied.
Bill and I just looked at each other, "Elmo?" In the car on the way home we decided, "One of the first things we're going to do is give him a new name!"
The following days were nerve-wracking. The colt would be here in four days and we weren't set up for horses at all. There was a lot to do: he was going to need a pen, a shelter and food, (not to mention a good name). We had ten acres to work with but didn't want his pen to be too far from the house since he was so young and there were coyotes around, so we put it next to the garage. We made his pen out of railroad tie posts and used two-by- four boards for the rails. Meanwhile, we considered many names for this unique colt. Nothing too fancy or too plain, so we decided on Bell's Diablo Rogue. Every good horse has its owner's name as a part of its name so "Bell" had to be part of it. "Diablo" came about for two reasons; one, it means devil, (that describes a Mustang) and two, we live in the shadow of Mt. Diablo. Then, considering that he is a Mustang led to "Rogue," which seemed to fit. We would call him Rogue for short.
"He's here!" I squealed excitedly to Bill across the house as I ran out the door, barely hearing him as he called back, "I'm right behind you!"
"What a long trailer," Bill said as he caught up with me in the yard. Bill and I began to laugh as the lady opened the trailer gate. "He looks so funny!" Bill gasped between laughs.
"Yes," I replied. "Look at that funny expression on his face. It's so comical to see such a tiny horse in such a huge trailer."
The lady peered into the trailer and began to laugh too. "Well, let's get this little guy out of this big trailer so I can be on my way."
We watched the long trailer pull out of the driveway, looked at the colt, then at each other, and said, "What do we do now?"
Later that day I went out to visit my little Rogue, but he was afraid and ran from me. I was disappointed because I wanted him to like me. I knew I had to put my emotions aside and I knew it may take a while to gain his trust. The next day I sat quietly in the corner of his pen to watch, learn, and get to know him, but more importantly, to let him get to know me. After several hours, it happened; his curiosity got the better of him. With his neck stretched out as far as it would take his nose, he inched his way toward me. My heart began to race as I sat there holding my breath; I could just make him out from the corner of my eye; he would pull his head back for a moment then stretch out again a little closer each time. What seemed like forever only took about fifteen minutes, but he finally made it close enough for his muzzle to reach me. I could feel his warm breath on my cheek then his whiskers tickled my ear.
Stifling a laugh of sheer joy, I waited for him to finish investigating me and to relax before I made a move. He smelled my cheek and the top of my head, then pulled at my sleeve and long braid with his lips. It was so hard to contain myself; this is what I had been waiting for so patiently. He rubbed his face against my cheek again and his stance relaxed, which meant he was comfortable with me now. Ever so slowly I moved my hand from my lap to under his chin and touched him. He didn't get startled so I began to pet him along the side of his face moving down onto his neck, and then began to scratch his withers. I cautiously turned my gaze upon him and slowly stood up. To my surprise and awe he just stood there looking back at me with a look I will never forget. I may be mistaken, but it sure looked like love in those soft brown eyes. At that moment I knew he gave his trust to me wholeheartedly.
Rogue is almost three years old now. He has surpassed even my own expectations. There is more work to be done, but isn't that true of any relationship? Rogue has proved to me that dreams really can come true.